The Psalmist had just been rejoicing in his privileges. He now binds himself to his obligations—and that not for a day—but even to the end. Observe where he begins his work—not with the eye—the ear—the tongue—but with the heart, "for out of the heart are the issues of life." And yet this inclining of the heart to the Lord's statutes is as much the work of God as to create a world; and as soon could "the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots," as we could "do good, who are accustomed to do evil." David was very far from meaning, that any act of his own power could turn the channel of his affections out of their natural course. But prayer, such as he had often poured out, sets every principle of the soul in action, and, in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, he inclines his heart. Thus we do what we do; but God enables us, 'preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will' (Are. X.)—not working without or against us, but in us—through us—with us—by us. His preventing grace makes the first impressions, and His assisting grace enables us to follow. Weak indeed are our purposes, and fading our resolutions, unsupported by Divine grace. Yet renewing strength is given to the "waiting" Christian, even to "mount up on eagles' wings, to run without weariness, and to walk without fainting." Conscious as we are, that "without Christ we can do nothing," it is no less true, that we "can do all things through Christ which strengthens us." Let us exercise, then, the grace already given, in dependence upon a continued supply; and turning to Him with freedom and delight, we shall incline our hearts with full purpose to perform His statutes always, even unto the end. This is God's way of quickening the dead soul to life and motion; alluring it by an inexpressible sweetness, and at the same moment, by an invincible power, drawing it to Himself.
Every step indeed to the end will be a conflict with indwelling sin, in the form of remaining enmity, sloth, or unbelief. But how encouraging is it to trace every tender prayer, every contrite groan, every spiritual desire, to the assisting, upholding influence of the "free spirit of God!" The continual drawing of the Spirit will be the principle to perseverance. The same hand that gave the new bias for a heavenward motion will be put forth to quicken that motion even unto the end. 'I can hardly hold on,'—the believer might say—'from one step to another.' How can I then dare to hope, that I shall hold on a constant course—a daily conflict to the end? But was it not Almighty power that supported the first step in your course? And is not the same Divine help pledged to every successive step of difficulty? Doubt not, then, that "He is faithful that has promised:" dare to be "confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." And in this confidence go on to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
He was active and energetic in ruling his own heart: not only could he say, "I am inclined," but, "I have inclined." He was not half inclined to virtue, but heartily inclined to it. His whole heart was bent on practical, persevering godliness. He was resolved to keep all the statutes of the Lord, with all his heart, throughout all his time, without erring or ending. He made it his end to keep the law unto the end, and that without end. He had by prayer, and meditation, and resolution made his whole being lean towards God's commands; or as we should say in other words—the grace of God had inclined him to incline his heart in a sanctified direction. Many are inclined to preach, but the Psalmist was inclined to practice; many are inclined to perform ceremonies, but he was inclined to perform statutes; many are inclined to obey occasionally, but David was inclined to obey always; and, alas! many are inclined for temporary religion, but this godly man was so inclined that he felt bound to all eternity to perform the statutes of his Lord and King. Lord, send us such a heavenly inclination of heart as this: then shall we show that you have quickened and taught us. To this end create in us a clean heart, and daily renew a right spirit within us, for only so shall we incline in the right direction.
Many have declined who once seemed inclined to better things; may the Lord so rule our hearts that we may never lose our wholehearted inclination towards holy living!
Exposition of Verses 113 to 120
I HATE vain thoughts: but your law do I love.
You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
Uphold me according unto your word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Hold me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto your statutes continually.
You have trodden down all them that err from your statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love your testimonies.
My flesh trembles for fear of you; and I am afraid of your judgments.
This octave, whose initial letter is Samech, or S., has been likened to Samson at his death, when he laid hold of the pillars of the house and pulled it down on the Philistines. Mark how he grips the pillars of divine power, with "Uphold me," and "Hold me up"; and see how the house falls down in judgment on the unholy! "You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross." This section carries the war into the enemy's country, and exhibits the believer as militant against falsehood and iniquity.